The N-SAFE project examines the newly emerging role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as they partner with governments around the world in the global fight against illegal fishing. This is an important development, because if it works, such partnerships can transform the way we think about protecting our planet’s increasingly fragile oceanic ecosystem from illegal and unregulated overfishing.

These joint NGO-state fisheries protection programs remain understudied. As a result, we know very little about the technical nature and content of these new NGO-state fisheries programs, their effectiveness and impact, and their possible replicability elsewhere. We also know little about the political consequences of transferring law enforcement responsibility to an NGO—for both governments and NGOs alike. Can NGOs play a productive role in fighting international illegal fishing on the high seas? Can volunteer-based maritime NGOs transition from ‘activist’ organizations into responsible and effective state partners? What are the political consequences of introducing an NGO into what is traditionally a law enforcement function of the state?

The N-SAFE team seeks to find answers to these questions by engaging with and studying the NGO and government actors involved in these exciting new programs emerging around the world.

Project period: 2021-2024




  • Research Council of Norway